July 29, 2008

Monticello Motor Club, Opening Day.

The era of Motor Country Clubs has really arrived. It's not that it's something new, from the Ascari resort in Spain to VIR in Virginia, the idea had been tried before but now, with a number of new venues opening , it seems like the idea is becoming more widely accepted.

And it is an obvious one, today we have the most capable cars ever built and no place to drive them. The traffic, the law... "great car, wrong planet" went a line in a wonderful review I read once, there was never a better time to build facilities where to ENJOY driving.

The Monticello Motor Club is the latest of these and we were there at the ribbon cutting ceremony. More pictures and a video lap after the jump....

Mario Andretti was there along with Brian Redman with whom I had the pleasure of chatting for a bit. Bob Varsha of SpeedTV fame was the MC, Chris Economaki, a real Ferrari 250 GTO and a parking lot that would have made Monaco's Place du Casino jealous. In other words, a motorhead's dream day.

Tucked away in the middle of the Catskills, MMC now has the track fully paved with just the curbing and some gravel traps missing. Once it's done, set as it is on rolling terrain, I think it has the potential to look something like the fabulous Mas du Clos in France.

You can read about the details of the club and the costs on the MMC web site but before you write it of as another "rich boy" convenience as I have seen it described elsewhere, consider that this facility will be open to select clubs for racing and track day rental and as such represents an invaluable resource for Noth-East tracktard junkies like us. We have to be extremely grateful and supportive to the founding members of this and other similar new ventures (New Jersey Motorsport Park is another), we wish them all the success.

A quick 997 GT2 track review will have to wait, we did not get to do our own driving as had been the program.

The weather only cooperated long enough for the ribbon cutting.  Seconds after the inaugural lap for founding members, led by Andretti and Redman in a Lotus 79 and Porsche 908-3, a torrential downpour drove everyone inside the Formula 1 paddock style hospitality structure which served as a temporary clubhouse.
We never did find out who the poor dude who had left the window open on his new e90 M3 sedan was... he probably found a couple of frogs inside his car.

After the weather let up, we were taken around the track on board some Cadillac provided CTS, CTS-V and XLR-V. Pace was mellow, track was wet and a little muddy. No matter how much I tried to prod my driver and how much he tried, the bargy XLR-V refused to power the tail out even in the rain!

So how is this track? First adjective that comes to mind is "technical". That is usually code for tight and twisty and it is certainly winding, but there is more to it than just that.

There are some very challenging off camber turns, some blind crests, there is a almost Schwedenkreuz style fifth gear kink in the middle of an extremely long straight which will certainly be exciting in a supercar at 140mph.

It will be a track hard on brakes and tires, there are many low speed corners (I would say three definite 2nd gear corners) and many very long corners. There are corners where you will be able to get real silly with the rear if you choose.

There are concerns too, concerns I believe the organizers are aware of and will address: at the end of the very long straight someone is going to go off and it will not be pretty unless they have it sorted out. Grass on the side of the track looks gorgeous but when it's wet, you are going straight into the ARMCO, some crucial gravel traps or paved runoff will have to be added.

The plan is to have not only the clubhouse and garage facilities built but also to have, on site, high end specialist technical/mechanical help and even a sure to be busy, body shop.

So... on to the good stuff!

Here is the video. Two laps, the second at a touch more pace. As you can see it got pretty muddy. Sound was horrible wind noise only so I canned it.

additional pictures by The Dough


  1. Well until I see it open to more than *select* clubs (I've seen a few PCA guys claim to have dates...you know, some of the guys you can only run with if you've got a Porsche VIN), then I see it as absolutely a non-issue for me and others like me who love the track but don't come near to deep pockets.

    South to the brilliant ViR will always work for me. Heck, *I* could even afford the ViR membership and dues if I wanted (that alone would probably send the Monticello clients running back to the Hamptons :)). They allow more than *select* car clubs.


  2. TJ

    I thought the choice of Manu a little ironic :o)... but In the end it was more about the title...

    fpol: one of the clubs is PDA... they are not particular about VINs :o)
    And really, any new track is a good track!!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. fpol, i don't get your negative tone about this. You are in the land of the free and opportunity. You have at least three choices IMO:

    1. understand basic economics that if you are supportive about this track and due to price discrimination, once it has sold out on memberships it will eventually become available at the marginal price to almost every track day club

    2. Instead of complaining, figure out how to make it affordable to you (study harder, work harder..., anything is possible in a capitalist and free system... my current trip to Russia just confirms it)

    3. Move and live in a cheaper place like in the South where you can make Barber and VIR your home track at lower prices it that's what really matters the most to you.

    What is keeping you from being supportive about having more options irrespective of price of admission?

  5. Incidentally, the XLR-V can be drifted just fine. I think something was setup wrong (Stabilitrak, etc.).


  6. Ilyam5

    CG What are you doing in russia? Any interessting car clubs there? Have not been to the mothreland in the past 3 years. Shoot me an e-mail aaailya@yahoo.com

    Moticello is a great facility. PDA has 2 days there in autumn.

  7. Some one beat me to the Manu Chao comment. Love it! Looks like a very nice track and looks to be done right.

  8. I tell you this about the XLR-V, at 500 miles it smelled like either glue or paint thinner, I'm guessing the guy giving rides woke up with a nasty headache the next day! I never experienced a new car smell like that, it was revolting.

  9. Oh yeah!? Well your car looks like a shoe!


  10. i wish to join this 'club' u had to be fast, not loaded. not like i could join that way either. but still.


  11. Freep: it may look like a shoe but at least it does not smell like it was assembled with SuperGlue....

    Lobuck. that would be awesome, sort of a "Balls of Fury" speed club!

  12. Why do you have to hate it so much? Is someone paying you? First it was the drift-ability (which you incorrectly assessed), and when I pointed that out it became the smell? How are those even related?

    Welcome to Awkardtown.
    Population: AC :)


  13. Dude... I understand you got that "Northstar V8" tattoo in the mid eighties but....

    Fact: I was in the car.
    Fact: it smelled like glue.
    Fact: the driver (a rolex cup driver)
    could not get the tail to come around in the wet, car pushed horribly. Could it be done? Of course, any car can be made to do it if you throw it hard enough, but you'd expect at least a little wheelspin out of a hairpin in the wet (or at least to feel the traction control do it's thing if it was on)

    You are the only one who said the glue smell and the handling are related.... why so defensive?

  14. I was in the same car and it smelled like it had just come out of the paint booth. I must say that once again GM managed to botch a great idea. How can you go wrong when starting off with a great platform like the C6. Well, look no further than the XLR. We got a ride in the "V" edition. I just looked up the stats, 443hp supercharged northstar V8. Thats alot more HP than it felt like, maybe because it was wet. The interior is just OK which is a huge improvement for GM. It seems the designers were not completely drunk when they designed it this time around. They must have been sh1tfaced when they designed the exterior though. The best part is the price...$82,600 can you believe it! Wait. Thats for the non-supercharged version. The XLR-V costs $100k! Gimme a break!

  15. Don't ask me why I'm so defensive; ask yourself why you're so offensive (that's the question I asked that you still haven't answered).
    Also, do your homework. Stabilitrak has been recognized as one of the most advanced, unintrusive yaw and wheelspin controllers in the industry... it IS possible you didn't feel it working.
    I never said they were related. The only thing I asked was how'd you get from attacking the handling to attacking the smell?


  16. why do I go from attacking the handling to attacking the smell?
    hmm... because the car plowed and smelled like a port-a-potty?

    Trust me they are not related... and trust me, nobody buys an XLR-V for the handling...or any other reason, not as long as there are SL's around.

  17. So, when are the Gator strips going in?


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